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‘Ellen’ crew ‘distressed, outraged’ by pay cut since coronavirus outbreak: report

Ellen DeGeneres appears during a commercial break at a taping of 'The Ellen Show' in Burbank, Calif.
Ellen DeGeneres appears during a commercial break at a taping of 'The Ellen Show' in Burbank, Calif. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Crew members from The Ellen Show are reportedly “distressed” and “outraged” by the treatment they’ve received from executives throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by Variety.

According to the outlet, sources for the core stage crew of the talk show (consisting of more than 30 people) say that after weeks of little to no information they were told to prepare for a 60 per cent pay cut last week.

“When production executives finally did weigh in, nearly all crew members were told last week to brace for a 60 per cent reduction in pay, even as the show continues to air, according to sources close to the matter,” the report alleges.

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The crew was also “further incensed by the show’s recent hire of an outside, non-union tech company” that was brought in to help host Ellen DeGeneres tape the show remotely from her mansion in California.

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“Due to social distancing requirements, technical changes in the way the show is produced had to be made to comply with city ordinances and public health protocols,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told Variety of hiring Key Code Media, a Burbank-based audiovisual house, to help with the remote version of the show.

According to the report, only four core crew members work on the remote version of The Ellen Show, “who find this treatment to be totally inconsistent with DeGeneres’ daily message to her audiences: ‘be kind.'”

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A spokesperson for Warner Bros., who distributes The Ellen Show, told Variety, “Our executive producers and Telepictures are committed to taking care of our staff and crew and have made decisions first and foremost with them in mind.”

Warner Bros. also said that the crew has been paid consistently, though at reduced hours.

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Crew members claim that they were “left in the dark” from late March through April 9 about if and how much they would be paid.

A Warner Bros. spokesperson acknowledged to Variety that the communication could have been better, but cited complications due to the chaos caused by COVID-19.

On April 2, a majority of the crew members were shocked to discover that DeGeneres had a remote set at her home where she began taping the show. Many claimed to find out about the remote show through social media posts from other colleagues.

The Ellen crew was last paid in full for the week of March 16, when the Warner Bros. lot where the show is filmed was shut down as a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to the studio.

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“When returning from break, the crew was paid the week of March 30th despite having no firm plans for production to resume,” the Warner Bros. spokesperson told Variety.

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An insider told the outlet that pay was reduced to eight hours from 10 hours per workday for the week of March 30th.

READ MORE: Ellen DeGeneres shares message of positivity amid coronavirus pandemic

Variety reports that as of  April 10,  the Ellen crew was told to expect a reduced compensation of two, eight-hour workdays per week.

When DeGeneres returned to air on April 7, she said she “wanted to start doing my new show as soon as possible” and that she was doing it for “my staff and crew. I love them, I miss them, the best thing I can do to support them is to keep the show on the air.”

DeGeneres was under fire when she returned to the air after she compared being quarantined in her mansion during the novel coronavirus pandemic to “being in jail.”

“Today, I am filming this in my living room because it has the best light and sound and all the other rooms in my house are filled with toilet paper,” DeGeneres said.

“One thing that I’ve learned from being in quarantine is that people — this is like being in jail, is what it is,” she said. “It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 10 days and everyone in here is gay.”

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The video is now unavailable on DeGeneres’ YouTube channel following the backlash the comedian received.

Many people who watched the video took to Twitter to call DeGeneres’s comments “tone-deaf.”

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DeGeneres has not addressed Variety’s report as of this writing.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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